Lists are great. They inspire discussion, create arguments, and tend to spiral off into fun new lists. When you do a list about the “BEST” of anything it goes from being fun to becoming a hotbed for arguments. There’s no such thing as a definitive list but I’ve decided to pull from my rather extensive life of film watching and put it to good use.
This is not the “film critic’s top 100” list. There’s no guarantee Citizen Kane or The Bicycle Thief will be in the top echelon or even on the list. This is the 100 movies I would put my name on as my top 100. If I died tomorrow this would represent the 100 films I find most vital, special, or ones that bonded to whatever it is that makes me me. I’m not including documentaries, though that might make for a nice supplemental list.
The first 80 will be in no particular order. The last 20 will be in very particular order. One a day, you have my word.
#78 – The Talented Mr. Ripley
Why is it here:
This is a film that came out at the wrong time. It truly deserves all of the accolades many of its peers garnered but it just got lost in the shuffle. Luckily time has been kind to it and the careers of its then-young stars have only gotten more grand. As a result this is a film still being discovered. Matt Damon is fantastic and very brave in a role that asks him to fall in love with women and men, adapt to a wide array of challenges, sing and dance, and do very bad things to people. When his career is over this is one of the ones that will cement his legacy. Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman [RIP], Jack Davenport, and James Rebhorn [RIP] all excel in Anthony Minghella’s [RIP] brilliant adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel. Jude Law, however… has never been better than he is here. As bright, sexy, and eye-grabbing a performance as I’ve ever seen. The man is magnetic. You understand why everyone wants to be him, be with him, or be in bed with him. It’s an astonishing role that only makes his subsequent career, as good as it has been, a bit of a disappointment. That’s how good he is. Shot in a classical style I can only compare to a less showy but very vintage Alfred Hitchcock, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a yearly revisit for me and a film that only improves with age.
Moments to savor:
The moments where Tom Ripley assimilates into Dickie Greenleaf’s life. Freddie Miles becomes suspicious. The boat scene. When Mr. Ripley realizes he has to kill his lover. Gwyneth Paltrow at her most radiant. Italy bathed in sunshine. The happy moments before the darkness.
High. It’s one of those films that is just one that gets more and more special as time goes on. It’s a shame it wasn’t better received. It had the bad fortune of coming out in 1999, a colossal year for movies. That said, it’s better than most of the field. One of the ones that fared better that year awaits you later on in this very list.
I had the pleasure of working with Bill Horberg, one of this film’s producers, on Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. We spoke about this film quite a bit and he spoke of a four plus hour cut of this movie that is absolutely perfect but lost to us in legal issues. With Minghella in the ground it’s unlikely we’ll ever see the extended cut but it’s one of those holy grail things for me. It’s made even more mysterious by the fact more footage of the also gone Philip Seymour Hoffman could be out there. The story was filmed before as Purple Noon, an excellent movie in its own right. With the amazing Alain Delon!